LIfe. A Manual Exhibition inspired by the work of Georges Perec
04.02 – 23.04.2017 LIfe. A Manual Exhibition inspired by the work of Georges Perec
curator: Jadwiga Sawicka
collaboration on the part of Zachęta: Katarzyna Kołodziej, Michał Kubiak
exposition design: Lila Kalinowska
visual identity of the exhibition, graphic design of texts: Kaja Gliwa, Mikołaj Moskal
artists: Eleanor Antin, Apsolutno, Martin Arnold, Krzysztof Bartnicki & Wojciech Kucharczyk, Michał Chudzicki, CT Jasper & Joanna Malinowska, Omer Fast, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Bartosz Fic, Kaja Gliwa & Mikołaj Moskal, Johan Grimonprez, Nicolas Grospierre, Grzegorz Jankowicz, Lukáš Jasanský & Martin Polák, Alicja Karska & Aleksandra Went, Lila Kalinowska, PIO Kaliński, Agnieszka Kurant, Jamie Livingston, Justyna Łuczaj-Salej, Piotr Macha, Martyna Miller, Aleksandra Mir, Karolina Niwelińska, Krzysztof Pisarek, Jan Rusiński i ilustratorzy (Arobal, Jacek Ambrożewski, Patricija Bliuj-Stodulska, Ola Cieślak, Paulina Derecka, Małgorzata Dmitruk, Paulina Dudek, Magdalena Dukaczewska, Stanisław Gajewski, Joanna Gębal, Agnieszka Głód, Monika Hanulak, Maria Huculak, Marta Ignerska, Rafał Kucharczuk, Wacław Marat, Milena Podloch, Greta Samuel, Aniela Sadlej, Maciej Sieńczyk, Marianna Sztylak, Stanisław Wójcik, Barbara Żuchowska), John Stezaker, Weronika Szczawińska & Krzysztof Kaliski, Mariusz Tarkawian, Andrzej Tobis, Marianne Wex and the students of Faculty of Art, University of Rzeszów
authors of the books: Sophie Calle, Jonathan Safran Foer, Cristina de Middel, Joan Fontcuberta, Michael Landy, Chris Ware
In his Statement of Intent (1978) Georges Perec comments on the formal diversity of his work: ‘I have never written two books of the same kind, or ever wanted to reuse a formula, or a system, or an approach already developed in some earlier work.’ He divided his writings into four different fields, four different modes of questioning. There is the sociological field (‘looking at the everyday’), the autobiographical one, the ‘ludic things’ (or the effect of introducing formal constraints), and the novelistic mode which stems from the wish ‘to write books to be read at a gallop’.
Based on this division, the exhibition Life. A Manual — integrating various disciplines — presents the works by authors who think in classifications, enjoy formal constraints and complex narratives. The exposition is divided into four parts: ludic, sociological, novelist and autobiographical. The reading room, which is an integral part of the show, permeates all the ‘chapters’ of the exhibition. Among the presented publications there are photo books, books that are the result of art projects, and books that simply are art projects.
The exhibition was inspired by one of Perec’s most well-known novels Life a User’s Manual — a multi-layered story about the inhabitants of a Paris building. Constructed according to the principles of combinatorics and the rules of chess, it met the postulates of the experimental literary group OuLiPo, Perec belonged to since 1967. Life a User’s Manual, ‘subject to strict formal rules, arbitrarily chosen, is an experimental avant-garde book, which reads like a realistic novel, with the reader not suspecting the existence of the complicated machinery under the surface of the text which induces the flow of the narrative’ — wrote Anna Wasilewska about the French writer’s work.
Similarly the exhibition Life. A Manual can be viewed without the knowledge of the rules by which it was built — as a set of interesting, somewhat obsessive works. At the same time it is to give the viewer the pleasure of discovering the rules, applied by the artists — similarly to Perec.
The exhibition is accompanied by the book Life. A Manual containing a selection of writings (including fragments of Georges Perec’s prose) and essays in the field of literature, sociology and art (design and illustrations by Anna and Magdalena Piwowar).
LIfe. A Manual
Exhibition inspired by the work of Georges Perec
04.02 – 23.04.2017
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
pl. Małachowskiego 3, 00-916 Warsaw
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Tuesday – Sunday 12–8 p.m.
Thursday – free entry
ticket office is open until 7.30 p.m.